Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 80 - An Accurate Long Pass

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:39]
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Chapter 80: An Accurate Long Pass

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

Yang Pan had finally returned.

His eyes were still a little red, but he could already smile and face the greetings as well as comfort that other offered. Because it was the school’s first time in the finals, he did not want to ruin the joyous and upbeat atmosphere.

It was only when he was silent that Zhang Jun could see some erratic movements in his eyes. Zhang Jun knew that the impact of his grandmother’s death was still in his heart.

Zhang Jun thought of comforting him, but he did not know what to say. He felt distraught too, but Yang Pan’s grandmother was not his own granny and one else knew about his relationship with his grandmother, so no one came to comfort him. All he could do was train like crazy and use his physical fatigue to ease the pain in his heart.

Now, he had his morning jogs every single day. His father would eat breakfast at the table and one morning, he saw how Zhang Jun was covered in sweat as he barged though the door. As a result, he thought that he remembered the day wrongly. Was it the day of the match?

His father’s feelings were understandable. For a long time, Zhang Jun was not a person who would willingly work hard for something, including soccer. He would rush into one thing and use his interest as his driving force. When he was a child, he liked colorful stamps, so he began to search everywhere for used envelope stamps to build his collection. Later on, he liked to paint, so the walls and tables in the house were all easily accessible for painting. Then, he liked to sing, which left the neighbors suffering. There was also that time when he liked playing with slingshots. Those poor streetlights had no clue who it was…

However, these “interests and hobbies” never lasted long. Otherwise, he would have been called “Collector Zhang Jun”, “Painter Zhang Jun”, “Singer Zhang Jun” and “Sniper Zhang Jun”. But… he was now “Soccer Player Zhang Jun”. He enjoyed soccer and fortunately this time, his interest did not burn out like it did for the others, hence he worked hard for it. Of course, it was because he always had a good partner, Yang Pan.

Interest turned into passion and this made Zhang Jun like soccer even more. Nonetheless, that was still not enough to make him work hard by training every day. Yang Pan also liked soccer, but he insisted on training daily. Those were the two differences between them, but they did not interfere with how the other carried on with his interests. Yang Pan would not request Zhang Jun to jog five kilometers every day or do 200 sit-ups, not even 50 push-ups… Zhang Jun would not laugh at Yang Pan for waking up at 6.00 am every morning to jog whether it was rain or shine.

Unexpectedly, Zhang Jun was now taking the initiative to jog every morning! After each day of training, he would return home to do 200 sit-ups and 50 push-ups…

It’s not that I don’t understand, it’s just that things are changing so fast!

His father sighed.

“Li Yongle, how’s that curve ball?” Sun Laihong stopped Li Yongle from walking away.

“There’s only been a 50/50 chance of success during training. So, it’s difficult to say when it comes to the game,” Li Yongle replied.

“Alright. Anyway, it’s only been a year. Your improvement’s already rather fast,” Sun Laihong nodded his head and replied. “Oh yes, tell me about your thoughts, what are your thoughts on a good midfielder?”

“A good midfielder?” Li Yongle did not understand, so he asked his coach what he actually meant.

“Yes, what are your thoughts on a good midfielder?”

Li Yongle thought about it for a bit. “This… First of all, he’s got to have plenty of physical energy, because a lot of stress is placed on the lower back. Then, of course his defense has to be good too. A midfielder provides a solid barrier to prevent the others from entering the penalty zone. He must also have a good sense of positioning, the ability to read the game, and a good execution of the captain’s tactical intentions. Not to mention, he also has to possess a high spirit of teamwork so that he doesn’t become a lone hero. He’s supposed to be the team’s offensive and defensive center. In addition, they have to know how to pass and perform headers… Ah! Coach, you’re asking me to practice more headers!”

Sun Laihong shook his head. “Honestly, your headers aren’t that good, so you have to use your legs to stop balls from a high altitude, which is more dangerous. But, I think there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Then what’s all of this about?”

Sun Laihong passed the ball, which was under his foot to Li Yongle. Then, he pointed at the goal. “Kick the ball into the goal from here.”

The both of them were positioned at least 60 or 70 m away from the goal. It was an empty gate but he could not guarantee that the ball would go in.

Li Yongle looked at the goal, adjusted it, and kicked it with his right foot. The soccer ball flew into the air towards the goal, and finally fell into the empty gate.

Sun Laihong nodded. “Okay, not bad. You have a good grasp of direction and strength pressure.”

Li Yongle was confused. He did not know what his coach was talking about.

Sun Laihong continued, “As a good midfielder, it is necessary to read the game to determine whether the team is attacking or defending, and what kind of ways it’s attacking with. It is also important to know how the rules should be kept. If you’re being pressured by your opponents, the ball is at your feet and He Jialin is alone in the front, what would you do?”

Li Yongle thought and replied, “A long pass!”

“Correct!” Sun Laihong waved his hands. “A long pass as a counterattack! But wouldn’t the pass be a waste if your accuracy isn’t good?”

“Coach, I understand now. Do you want me to practice on long passes?”

“You’re not wrong. You’re very talented when it comes to long passes. Like steel, your direction and strength are impeccable. However, it’s better to increase your accuracy. It’s not easy to score a goal from a long distance, let alone for someone with a height of 170 cm in the game! Heading is indeed your weak point. You may as well use your strength to trump the weakness and practice your long passes a lot. Strive to accurately train it until it’s like a cruise missile that travels at a distance of 30 to 50 m. It’s not just for the team, it’s also for your own personal development.”

Zhao Defeng, who came out of the lounge overheard the conversation between Sun Laihong and Li Yongle. After Li Yongle left, he went up to to Sun Laihong. “Coach, don’t you want his accuracy in his long passes to be like a ‘tomahawk’ in the finals? There are only four days left…”

“Hehe! Swerve shot, swerve shot…” Sun Laihong laughed.

Zhao Defeng was speechless. Last year, Li Yongle managed to use a swerve shot to score a goal in just three days. This year, who was to say if he could deliver another surprise in four days?

The school’s speaker was broken, so the morning classes naturally became impossible. This great news for the students, and the 20-minute class break meant that they could play with joy. Many of them rushed to the soccer field and basketball courts with the ball.

Zhang Yang did not hand in his homework again and he was taken to the office by his Math teacher. Zhang Yang put Li Yongle as well as Zhang Lintao on blast for apparently not upholding their “brotherly bond”, and the two of them scattered across campus.

“Zhang Lintao, do you think my passes can be done wherever and whenever?”

“Of course, your passes are almost like Beckham’s.”

“I’m talking about long passes.”

“Long passes?”

“Thirty-to-fifty-meter long passes.”

“Fifty meters?” Zhang Lintao glanced at Li Yongle. “Is it going to be a big kick?”

“I’m asking if it’s possible or not.”

“That… I’m not sure, I’ve never seen it before! That’s very difficult since a goalkeeper could stop the ball if it’s an open big kick. You can’t achieve 100 % accuracy. In fact, 65 % is already very good! For long passes, the goal is to exercise. But, the rate of accuracy would be even lower as a result, about 40%. Nonetheless, that’s also considered excellent. Hey, why are you asking me about this?”

Li Yongle laughed. “Because, I could probably obtain 100 % accuracy in my long passes!”

Zhang Lintao thought that he heard wrongly. “How much?”

“One hundred percent.”

“Are you burning up? Even a professional soccer player can’t do 100 %! Back to the topic, how have you trained for it? Just saying it doesn’t prove it.”

“Good game!” There were cheers coming from the basketball court. An attacker performed a beautiful offense from the third quarter line and the basketball “brushed” into the hollow basket.

Li Yongle looked at the basketball post and he suddenly smiled. “I have a plan!”

Physical education class during the afternoon was normally for free activities.

Zhang Lintao and Zhang Yang had a look of suspicion on their faces as they watched Li Yongle place 10 soccer balls in the midfield. He then stood behind the balls. There were two basketball courts that separated him from the soccer field runway.

The people who were on the targeted basketball courts had been transferred to another place. The number one star of the school’s soccer team had to practice and the students naturally supported him.

Thus, Li Yongle began his special training.

He walked up to the first ball and took two steps before kicking it towards the basket in the opposite basketball court. The targeted hoop was about 30 m away from him.

The soccer ball flew into the sky and fell into the basketball hoop, but it was a pity that it did not hit the backboard or the basket. It fell out.

Li Yongle looked at the basketball post and this time, he got the ball to the edge of the backboard.

The third kick was a partial success again.

And the forth kick was splotched too.

In his series of 10 kicks, except for the second one, which slightly wiped the edge of the backboard, the other nine kicks were all failures.

“Training’s not working?” Zhang Lintao asked him.

Li Yongle shook his head. “Something’s wrong, but I don’t know what it is.”

“Good shot!” The basketball court was blasted with cheers as a few of them were watching. It was the three-point shooter from that morning and he just shot another ball from the three-point line. It was a very, very beautiful high throw and the basketball went into the net.

“Beautiful!” Li Yongle could not help but praise too.

“He’s our school basketball team’s three-point shooter, of course he’s brilliant!” Zhang Lintao replied.

“You know him?” Zhang Yang asked.

“I’m interested in basketball too. He’s the main force of our school’s basketball team, how wouldn’t I know…”

Before Zhang Lintao could finish his speech, he was pulled to the basketball court by Li Yongle. “Go ahead, ask him. We need his help!” Zhang Yang immediately followed.

“Guys?” The shooter looked at Li Yongle, who was half a head taller than him.

“Hehe, here’s the thing, we’re interested in your three pointers and we’d like to know how you train.” Zhang Lintao was full of smiles.

“How I train? I just repeatedly shoot the ball every day!”

“What are your tips and methods?”

“Tips?” The shooter laughed. “The shooting practice is kind of a repetitive movement. Find the rhythm and sensation of shooting the ball in these repeated exercises. Record it with your body, arm and wrist, then use it naturally when it’s time!”

“But, there’s always a way to start practicing.”

“The way huh.” The shooter lifted the ball in front of him. “You have to look straight at your target. For example, I’m now staring at the front of the back basket and after this, I’m going to make a clean shot.” Once he said that, he jumped and took a shot. The ball once again flew in a high arc and fell into the net. It was a clean shot!

Li Yongle sighed.

Someone threw the ball back to the shooter. “Now I’m marking the upper right corner of the backboard. From this point of view, I can make a shot.

“Of course, there are hand-held positions, wrist swings, finger movements, knee power and waist-to-belly coordination to consider as well. In short, it is the result of consistent coordination throughout the body!”

“So, do you understand?” Returning to the soccer field, Zhang Yang asked Li Yongle with confusion written all over his face.

Li Yongle laughed. “Let’s give it a try!” He stared at the basketball post on the other side and launched a kick. The soccer ball then rebounded on the backboard. “He wasn’t not wrong!” He raised his fist excitedly.

“Wrong about what?” Zhang Yang did not understand.

“I think I’ve got it.” Zhang Lintao clapped. “That shooter wasn’t wrong. Before shooting the ball, you have to make sure what your target is. To make a clean shot, one has to stare at the back edge of the basket, so that one has a target. If you want to aim for the board, you have to stare at its position. After your eyes have locked on to the target, your body will be consistent from top to bottom, allowing the ball to be thrown at the middle of the target. If you hesitate when you attack, you won’t know where the ball will be shot at and it’ll definitely be a failure. The same applies to soccer. Be sure to know what your goal is.”

Li Yongle nodded. “Correct! A ball without a target will only be a blind kick.” After he was done speaking, he kicked the ball. It hit the backboard and bounced into the basket!

“The results… aren’t bad at all!”